Corruption or incompetence? That’s the eternal question with boxing’s unending flirtation with scripted reality television. Are the people who pull the levers that turn the gears and ultimately decide the course of fighters’ careers crooked or are they just dumb? Or both?
In order to make sense of the 12 round majority decision junior middleweight Jaime Munguia (33-0, 26 KO) was awarded over Irishmen Dennis Hogan (28-2-1, 7 KO) Saturday night Monterrey, Mexico on DAZN, let’s first ask ourselves a couple questions.
Was Munguia supposed to win? Yes
Did Hogan deserve to win? Yes
Was it a robbery? Probably
Should we be surprised by any of this? Absolutely not
At this point, one of two things can happen: Boxing can have a sweeping overhaul of its current judging system, including advanced training for current ones, suspensions for inept ones and a more rigorous accreditation process for new ones.
We as fans can recalibrate what we consider to be surprising outcomes.
I’ll leave it to you determine which of these scenarios feels more likely as I contemplatively stare out the window in silence while wearing a turtleneck and eating a yogurt cup with my fingers.
And that’s the thing. Boxing has no incentive to change. For all our Saturday night rage tweets the slate is clean by Monday and we’re on to talking about the fights in the coming weekend. If the garbage man takes a shit in your trash bin every Tuesday morning, all the over-the-fence bitching in the world to your morbidly obese neighbor Ken isn’t going to stop him if you keep dragging the cans out to the curb. Sorry, this just got sort of personal and I should probably take it up with the municipal department.
Point is, if something happens at the frequency of a lesser-known fighter wandering into hostile territory to pad the stats of a highly-regarded prospect, outperforming his expected talent level and ultimately losing a close but deserved decision does, it’s not exactly shocking. It’s merely the less likely of two expected outcomes. And that’s sad.
There’s probably no more fitting image for the current stratification of boxing social classes than a chubby Oscar De La Hoya grinning sheepishly as he celebrates with his undeserving Golden Boy promoted fighter while a gutted Dennis Hogan shakes his head despondently just feet away.
The other reason these lapses in judgment from the people that get paid to make them are so disheartening, in this case anyway, is that it takes the attention away from what was a pretty damn good fight.
Munguia came out fast, looking to make a statement only to find that Hogan’s vastly underrated footwork was going to make that a difficult task. By the third round Munguia was swinging and missing so hard that he was putting out forest fires in Canada but the body shots he landed were having a clear effect on Hogan.
By the middle rounds Hogan was not only in the fight but having his way in spots and making the hometown fighter uncomfortable enough that he asked his corner multiple times between rounds who was winning.
In the seventh round Dennis Hogan found yet another gear and started seriously tagging Munguia with shots that, had he possessed more power, may have had the Mexican star in serious trouble.
In the 11th round Hogan landed an overhand right that sent Munguia stumbling backward like King Hippo and looked to be a fight clinching punch for a guy coasting to a career victory. However, Munguia showed poise and stepped on the gas in the 12th round enough to at least make the reading of the scorecards interesting.
When they finally were announced the outcome was surprising only if you’ve never watched a professional boxing match before: 114-114, 116-112 and 115-113 in Munguia’s favor. Close enough as not to arouse suspicion yet wide enough to spark outrage. Boxing’s signature finishing move.
The tendency here is to blame Munguia –to call him protected and overrated and somehow imply that he had a hand in the judges awarding him the decision. But he fought his ass off in a fast paced fight against a determined opponent with nothing to lose. If landing at an even clip (123 of 493 for Hogan, 122 of 671 for Munguia according to CompuBox) and eking out an albeit undeserved but close decision constitutes a bad night at the office, most fighters will probably take that.
Let’s not forget that Munguia is 22 years old. He’s going to have bad nights here and there as he tests the waters at the next tier of talent. When one guy fights below his expected level and another drastically exceeds his, well, this is kind of what you get. You just hope the judges reward the effort.
Hogan did everything that could be expected of him here. He came into hostile territory as more or less an afterthought and took the fight to the house fighter. He was prepared, in shape and smiled politely as the crowd booed the Irish national anthem, which, I didn’t even think Ireland had a national anthem (Brent is also unaware that the sun exists from September through March. -Ed). I assumed they just did a shot of Jameson every time a Flogging Molly song came on their AM radio and that was their version of patriotism.
Hogan said he was offered a rematch by Munguia’s team after the fight which he immediately accepted. I don’t know if a second fight with Munguia looks any better for Dennis Hogan but he’s certainly earned the chance to find out.
“They’ve just tried to take my family’s future away and I’ll fucking fight hard to take it back” Hogan told DAZN’s Chris Mannix after the fight.
I don’t know if that means they created an alternate Back to the Future style timeline wherein Hogan’s family no longer exists or if he’s claiming that this decision robbed him of the bigger stage awaiting him had he been rightfully determined the victor.
But here’s the thing. As frustrating as this outcome was for Hogan and his family, assuming he gets the rematch that was agreed to, this may have been, if not the best, certainly a runner up to an ideal scenario. He gets a shot at redemption on presumably neutral, if not home territory, against a guy he has no reason to fear with a heightened level scrutiny on the judges to get it right, not to mention the additional payday that accompanies all that.
A loss never feels good but there may be a silver lining here. And if there’s not, let’s at least do ourselves the service of not acting surprised.
This is boxing after all, and happy endings are as common as accurate scorecards.
(Photo by Stacey Verbeek)